Gratitude (113)

This ones a bit sticky for me. In our house gratitude was horribly interlinked with not complaining, keeping your mouth firmly shut.

“Shut up and be grateful for what you’ve got”.

And yes, we should all be grateful for the things in life that we have, nothing is a given, not a home, or a job, or safe people or loved ones. Some people currently have none of those things. And yet, as I’ve grown up, I don’t for one minute agree with this notion that talking about things we wish were different, “complaining”, expressing negative sentiments towards things, makes us ungrateful people, or ungrateful for those things that we do have.

I was extremely grateful to go to a private school (although to begin with I begged to go to the local school with all my friends, and would have done perfectly well there), and yet in our house we were continually reminded of how much sending each of us to a private school had cost them, (quite literally, we were given the figures), and everything they had missed out on in order to do so. And I am grateful, truly, for my school was in fact a bit of a safe haven for me for a few years, and yet it does not make right the pressure placed to do well and “make all the money worth it”. It also doesn’t make right the rest of the shitshow of a childhood we had at times. In order to be grateful for the sacrifices they made (and they did do it with the best of intentions), I do not need to be grateful for the rest of my childhood, or pass it off as being ‘made up for by’ that one thing, or ‘well, think about everything we gave up for to send you to that school, how much it cost’.

One right (and actually, a questionably necessary right) does not make okay other wrongs. Being grateful for one thing doesn’t automatically mean you should forget other wrongs.

I am not grateful for the sexual, physical and emotional abuse I endured growing up. Nor the neglect. I will not ignore or forgive those things simply because I “ought to be grateful” for the house we had, the food and clothes, the gifts my father bought us in the airport each week, the schools we went to, the opportunities we had, the birthday and christmas presents. I won’t allow the violation of my body to be made right by the fact that my dad bought me back a big bar of milka chocolate from Schippol Airport most weeks, and “dads home and he’s bought you a present so you have to be on your best behaviour”.

I’m absolutely positive that in my parents opinion, the rapes at the hand of a member of my own family are made okay by the fact that I never went without food or clothes, things I needed, and very often things I didn’t need. I am to keep quiet, keep the secret, no make a fuss, be grateful for all those things that I did get, not be selfish and focus on the negative, make out that it was all awful, and make life difficult for them.

And I still cannot comprehend this response of theirs. I don’t believe I am being ungrateful at all, I am grateful for the things I got.

Their disregard for all of my hurt however, has me floored.

Music (112)

Music is important to me. I like to have sound, particularly if it’s loud out, busy with people, if I just want to be in my own world, or quiet all the noise. I can’t sleep without noise, either a film, or music. Always, if I really can’t sleep, there’s one song that I turn to, and the best thing of all is that my best friend sang it for me and recorded it (along with her cat), and on nights like last night where I was sick, I put her recording on and not only did I have my favourite song, I had my best friend singing it. It is safety to me, a place to rest and be loved. I haven’t been able to sleep without music in years, and in my family, there is a lot to be said for being able to put earphones in and no longer have to hear conversations that are hurtful.

This ones very much for PC, a little truth telling – I used to, and still do occasionally when the mood takes me, listen to country music…. (Trust me people, she might unfriend me for this one, the blog could be over before we know it….)

Classical music reminds me of my paternal grandparents (both dead now). Something I adored about my grandmother is that every single day, when I arrived at their house after school, I would be greeted with the smell of the house…an old cottage, wood fire smoke in the winter, the smell of freshly baked bread or cake or dinner, the TV on in the sitting room, pot of tea keeping warm on the aga, and the sound of classical FM on the radio, a permanent presence, morning till evening.

I have also always wanted to go the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, particularly standing up in the gods. It kind of makes me sad because I absolutely love the Last Night of the Proms, and it’s always been a tradition of my dads and mine (the only ones who enjoy it) to play it loudly through the stereo system and listen and watch, eyes wide and sparkly, marking the end of summer, and the beginning (back then) of another school year. It was a connection of ours, and I just loved it. I’ve asked a few friends if they would want to go, but never really to any success… but perhaps I’ve just found my answer, PC?(though be warned, I know nothing about music, so I’ll very much be clueless if I’m there with you). If you came to the UK in the summer one year?

Crying (111)

Well I’ve been doing a fair bit of this today…

This one is kind of mixed in with all the ‘being weak’ stuff that I wrote about the other day (or started to write about)  And when I say mixed in, I mean glued together, being smooshed into each other by ten tonnes of iron either side, inside a locked safe with the key thrown away in a room 1,000ft under ground… ie really fucking together, and never not going to be. Crying is weak. That is the message that was planted into me very early on, and fed all the time. So really the first huge thing I think of when I think of me crying, is massive amounts of shame. And that’s all thanks to my family

I mean, to begin with I grew up with two older brothers, and that just in itself probably tends to result in a girl being a little tougher and less likely to cry (maybe? Maybe not. Depends on the family and the kids, but with my kind of brothers definitely so). Then you can include my hard mother, who doesn’t cry, never has been a crier. She was tough, not soft, and that was how I was to be. And then, y’know, you can add into the mix my entire childhood experiences. Violent father, abusive family, sexually abusive family, for that matter. And I was the mediator, the one required to keep her cool and keep the peace and make sure everything was okay. I was needed to be emotionless, and to a great extent I was. Different parts generally held different emotions, and I appeared to the outside world devoid of all ‘bad’ ones… Or “fine”. (that word had better not come up any time soon or I really will cry).

So, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t cry much. I absolutely could get upset, but as I got older I started to switch my emotions off. But to do that, I absolutely did cry… late at night, all on my own. About things that were happening to me, about imagining family members dying, about characters in books and films. I had books and films that I would turn to when I felt like I needed to cry. And I would sob into my stuffed elephant, like really really cry… About fictional characters, and yet also about the feelings of things that were actually happening to me, in my very real life.

And that was almost every single night for a while. I took myself to bed and I read if I needed to, and I cried myself to sleep.

Fast forward on a few years and I felt like I must’ve cried myself out, used up all my tears, because I could no longer cry…my tactical books and films no longer worked, I was immune to them. I was noticeably hardened, to the point where people commented on it. All of it had been turned off  because it was all far too much.

Im still so ashamed of crying, of being weak, of allowing there to be a place for my hurt and of people knowing that I am hurting. But I’m so much better with it. And I do think a certain Canadian friend has helped so much with that, by being kind and gentle and reassuring and sitting with me when it happens. I’m relearning to cry, and I really hate it sometimes, but it feels much better and safer with her by my side. She uses the phrase that “it feels like you will down in the grief” or “die from the pain of it”, and it really really does sometimes. Just today it all felt like too much to bear, it felt like I would never stop crying, and yet always, always, I have.

All of this is not to say that I cry a lot, because I don’t, I’m still getting there. But it’s more. Its also only ever on my own or with safe people, which so far only includes pocketcanadian, (though my therapist is close to being added to that list I think, if she stops disappointing me enough that I actually go back to her). But it’s so much better to give it space, to feel those feelings, even when you feel like you won’t survive them.

Lastly, this makes me think of pocketcanadian and how heavy my heart feels that she let’s me be there when she’s crying, that I’m safe enough. And it makes me think about how being on the phone to her and hearing her cry, is sometimes enough to make me cry too.

Honesty (101)

Following pocketcanadians lead here.

  • I think I might have actually lost it. I think I’m being crazy, I think im making stuff up  except then I also rotate with it just feeling normal, and then with my wanting to hide the truth because it feels so so shameful that I want to disembowel myself with all the hate I feel.
  • I hate myself sometimes, like actually wholeheartedly, painfully  despise myself to the extent that Ive been having nearly daily thoughts of killing myself.
  • I want to be loved. I tell myself that I don’t need love, don’t need anybody, perfectly happy and safe by myself. Nobody to hurt me. Except the honest truth is that I’m desperate to be loved and held and rocked and soothed. I long for and dream of somebody sweeping me up and taking care of me. Of being able to cry and weep and shout and let it all out and for somebody to stay and hear it, and tell me it’s okay now.
  • I’m so fucking mad that my therapist won’t be who I want her to be. She doesn’t love me, so fuck her.
  • I’m scared of the next four months. I refuse to be scared of anything  but that doesn’t always work.
  • I want my dad.
  • I think im more little than I am adult, and that makes me so ashamed.
  • Sometimes I want to really physically hurt people, because im that crazy. Pocketcanadians parents being top of the list.
  • All of it hurts, especially right now.

 

  • Oh and i can’t raise only one eyebrow. They are team players.

Weak (98)

I feel like I need forever to actually be able to write this post and do it justice for all the power this word holds over me.

Being ‘weak’ is the most insufferable, sickening, shrinking, painful thing to me. The idea of it, the suggestion that I might be it, the thought that people may misjudge me and consider me weak where I am not.

The origins of the pain of this word, of course, are from my family. They lie in the fact that being upset, needing, being sensitive and emotional were considered to be ‘weak’, and that being weak led to abuse and trauma and pain.

 

  • My mother was not the cuddly, gentle, reassuring, patient mother that small children need. She was generally inpatient, had no time for tears or being upset, or hurt. She didn’t react to those things with gentleness, but instead with annoyance and sometimes anger, and frankly, a lack of mothering. I hadn’t actually made the connection between this word and my mother to this extent until I began writing, but it is extremely clear. I don’t think she meant any harm by being that way; it was not intentional, likely passed down from her own upbringing. However the effects of it were far-reaching and really quite devastating. How was I ever going to feel like I could turn to somebody and admit how I was being hurt, when doing exactly that had been ingrained into me as being weak? How could I cry and need and ask for attention when that only ever resulted in impatience and annoyance, and a “come on, you’re fine, stop making a fuss”.

 

  • And all of that just caused so much shame. I closed in on myself to keep myself safe. Don’t cry, don’t be little, don’t be needy, don’t hurt, don’t be hurt. The white hot shame of doing those things only to be ten-folded when met with cold irritation. I hate that bastard shame, I really really do.

 

  • Today this word sits differently amongst different parts of me. The older parts don’t like it, but they are generally disdainful, quietly hating or judging the younger parts when they do something ‘weak’. If the rage-y one rages then this often is a source of huge self-hatred that she uses as ammunition. They take the place of my mum, inputting all of her shame. The youngest part pays no mind to not being ‘weak’; shes needy and emotional, and full on, and doesn’t care except to not want to be told off for it. The one that this is the be all and end all for is one of the young ones. The word sits in her belly and weighs it down with shame. It is always in the background, always there. It’s why she is spikey and walled up and tries to scare people away. It why she can’t ever let anybody totally in, despite being desperate to be loved and cared for like the little one she is. Her world centers around this 4-lettered stupid little word. It causes more pain, keeps more relationships from deepening, and keeps us more alone than any other word in the dictionary. And worst of all is the self-hatred it invokes.

 

I think this is going to be a part 1 of 2 (or more). There’s more to say…its huge impact even today, how I thought I deserved it all for being weak. How I thought if I physically made myself strong I would hate myself less for being weak…. But this will do, for now. It’s a start.

Boundaries (97)

First thing this made me think of was a blog called Tales of a Boundary Ninja that pocketcanadian told me about a couple of years ago now. The blog doesn’t seem to be active anymore, but I know I found it helpful and pc even more so. Definitely so worth a read to anyone who hasn’t heard of it.

And as does that blog talk about boundaries in relation to the authors therapist, this word makes me think of mine.

My t has very strict boundaries, and I completely hate them. I have been so jealous of other peoples relationships with their therapists. When my friend talks about their t checking in, texts that tell her she loves her or is thinking about her, when I hear about contact during the Christmas break, I am so full of ugly jealousy. Even worse, when I read about and hear about people having their therapist come over to sit next to them during a tough session, when they rest their head on their therapists lap or against their chest, when a therapist will read children’s books or stroke their hair…. All I can think is what is wrong with me? Why won’t my t ever do that? And ugh, the jealousy, the anger, the self hated. All because of boundaries.

And her reasons are the same bullshit thats always given… Its so important to have boundaries to keep it safe, that it’s a total lack of boundaries that has hurt me so much in my life, and it’s essential that she models good boundaries.

But fuck that. It isn’t boundaries that hurt me back then, it was violent, abusive arseholes. And how can it be safe for some therapists to do these things and not her? And I bet she does it with other clients. I bet she just doesn’t want my crazy rubbing off on her. Well fuck her.

And, where did these bullshit boundaries come into play when her husband came into my place of work on Christmas eve? Yes we are a business open to the general public, but he knew who I was, I could tell, and that’s fine, I go to his house every week and sometimes we see each other, but he shouldn’t fucking come to my place of work. That sounds like bullshit boundaries that are there how and when she wants them.

Patience (95)

At the moment this word is making me think of pocketcanadian, the amazing friend I’m lucky enough to share this blog with.

She doesn’t have endless patience. Nobody does (or should), but lately, she’s so much more patient than I could ever ask of her. I mean she’s always been patient, but extra lately. And the best thing of all… Its been with one of my young ones that really needs it. The little one and i have spent the last couple of days listening to pc’s voice and rereading the conversations between the two of them. Because, pc has been so gentle, so loving and kind, and so patient.

Neither of us can quite believe our luck, because here’s the thing, my little one believes pocketcanadian. She believes her words and she believes her love. She always knew that it was genuine, but she never dreamed that it could actually be applicable to her too. That somebody, actually, really, wants to fight to love her. That they care. It’s amazing. And she’ll carry on fighting it a bit sometimes, keep thinking it isn’t safe, but she also knows it’s there patiently waiting. And that’s so much more than we could have dreamed of.

Progress (93)

366 days ago I was spending Christmas with my parents, my brother and his fiancé, and a couple family friends, at my parents house (the one where a lot of the abuse from my brother took place) . My therapist last session said something about how terrible last Christmas was for me and I did a huge double take, (was it? Fuck I don’t remember that), because it all kind of blurs in I think. You do what you can to get through it, and the immediate aftermath is normally pretty bloody bad, but then you get by and you just sort of erase the details from your memory.

In these last 365 days, progress has been, well, non-e-fucking-xistant.

Let’s see, after that terrible Christmas, my therapist and I talked a lot about all the reasons it wasn’t really safe to tell my parents, to do the one thing that was on my mind all the time. Pocketcanadian would tell me that it wasnt safe for me to tell my parents like she had, that it was different circumstances, I am younger and I’m not independent from them. So a measly 6 weeks later, like the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the biggest idiot that I am, I fucking tell them.

And you’d think, 10.5 months on, that a lot would’ve happened, progress would be made, but that’s the biggest fucking laughable joke going.

I didn’t even have to say it, my mother asked the question, because she already knew the answer… What did he do to you? I know he tried it on with you once. Yes mum, he fucking raped me and attempted it a couple of times when you walked in and basically did sweet fuck all. Everything took place under your roof where you turned a fucking blind eye and allowed your daughter to be abused. Amazing.

And their responses… They don’t want to lose him. They don’t want to risk his career. They don’t want to risk him never coming back. They want me to keep my fat gob shut, and to play their little game of happy families. I’m to attend family events, I’m to act the part of loving daughter and sister, I’m to let no one know. I have to be so grateful for my darling brother. Told that I have to open presents from him that I really really don’t want to. Told to not be selfish. Told that isn’t that lovely of him /them.

Summer birthdays were the first time I actually was made to be there all together again, I had successfully managed to avoid being there when he was up until that point. And guess how it went? Dinner parties where my mother gushed over her amazing son, and slighted me every way she could, in front of everyone. I actually couldn’t believe it.

And now I’m back here again, a year later, a full circle. Thankfully no brother as he is away, but that doesn’t mean a lack of all the other stuff. Dinner table talk of how amazing he is, how wonderful his fiancé (their perfect vision of a daughter – if only they could’ve got one like her, not me). Video calls with both of them. All the lovey bullshit about how wonderful he is, what a shame he can’t be here, how missed he is. All for the audience of a family friend and grandparents. Meanwhile I’m barely at the table. I’m the waitress, that’s what I’m there for. To help cook, to carry plates, to fetch and carry and pour wine. To wash up everything from cooking a massive meal and serving a four course meal for 6 people (shit ton of washing up). And I’m not missed. I’m told what to do, not wanted to sit down with everyone else. And I sit back and do nothing (because there is no point), when my mum goes on about what a great mother she is. How she’s thinking of my other brother (who only wants anything to do with them when he needs money), how poor him, and poor her, and shes such a great mum, and when you have kids you’ll understand how mothers just want to protect their kids and have them close. Protect them? Lol!!!

I realised at some point yesterday, when my dad got angry and arseholeish with me because i hadn’t immediately gone and got something he wanted me to (because I was washing up a stack of plates resembling everest), that that was all I was there for. They had all the family they wanted when they could phone call my eldest brother and his fiance. They are their darlings, all they need in life. And I will never never never live up to them. And immediately I was so full of shame. I was being yelled at, I wasn’t good enough, yet again, and worse still, I was actually not really wanted. And that was it, I was 4 years old, crying without being able to stop the tears falling, escaping to cuddle my cat and try to find just someone that loved me and wanted me. My little one is still noisy, still sad, still ashamed for always being wrong.

Yesterday I texted pc, whilst I was so mad and losing it, and I said this: Here’s a resolution for 2019. Fucking kill myself so that I don’t have to see another year through. That’s how I feel about all of it, that’s really how I’m still feeling, how I can’t bear another year like this one.

So that’s my full circle of this past year. So much has happened, so much that a year ago I would have bet all my money on not happening… if someone had said I would tell my parents, face this stuff, I would have told you that’s incredible progress. But I guess that’s the amazing thing now about hindsight, because progress? What fucking progress? I’ve told them and *nothing* has changed. And that fills me with so much shame that I really do wish I was 10ft under.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Finality (90)

What this makes me think of is committing suicide. Most things may seem final, but there are possibilities for it being different. There’s no coming back from the dead.

Even when things are terrible, when Shame is telling me that I should do it, or even worse im just feeling so low that I have no desire to be here anymore, it’s the sense of finality that keeps me from following through. Or, I suppose, its that tiny tiny flicker of hope, that maybe, just maybe, it will change, I’ll feel different. And that’s just enough to hold on a while longer.